OVER REACTION OR SENSIBLE PRECAUTION AS UGANDA SUDDENLY DEMANDS YELLOW FEVER CERTIFICATES FOR ENTRY
(Posted 24th March 2016)
‘Some of our people tend to shoot from the hip without thinking first or without even consulting relevant sectors. Uganda tourism had a hard year last year and with all the election hullabaloo it only got harder. The cutting of social media access during the election days REALLY upset the few clients we had during that period. We had alot of negative publicity in global media over how our government handled the aftermath of the elections so this is now another nail in our coffin‘ ranted a regular commentator when asked how he reacted to the news.
It is clear that in an act of over reaction has Uganda’s Ministry of Health, and to make it worse with immediate effect, instituted the requirement for Yellow Fever inoculation certificates, or else ‘Ministry of Health – All persons entering Uganda must have a yellow fever certificate, otherwise, you’re vaccinated or put in the isolation unit‘.
This, if implemented overnight, will mean that perhaps hundreds if not thousands of visitors who fly to Uganda over the coming weeks, may have to be vaccinated, not an appealing prospect given the perception visitors have about our health facilities, or as threatened ‘put in an isolation unit‘.
For a vaccination against Yellow Fever to take effect it requires a ten day window after the inoculation, and given the time it will take to get this information into the mainstream travel media and across travel agencies, tour operators and the general public abroad, the full extend of the potential downside becomes apparent.
Angola is presently the hotbed of Yellow Fever and in neighbouring Kenya were two ‘imported‘ cases reported from travelers arriving on direct flights from Luanda to Nairobi.
Reacted another regular commentator just now: ‘Our government lacks finesse when it comes to such situations. They behave like bulls in china shops really. Visitors from Europe, America, the Gulf and Asia are almost entirely unlikely to have been in contact with a Yellow Fever patient or been in Angola, the only place where there is an outbreak. To punish such visitors with drastic measures like the Ministry of Health statement said, is simply counter productive to promoting Uganda as a tourist destination. They should be able to differentiate between travelers from those parts of the world and let them pass and those who come from affected areas. But then remember, the scare crows dressed up like aliens who received our tourists during the Ebola outbreak. That was a bad PR disaster! People posted pictures of the chaos in the arrival hall on social media and it did damage our reputation. When will these people learn to consult stakeholders and not just act like village chiefs. I will personally hold them responsible if we lose even more tourists when this hits the headlines overseas and people cancel rather than get shots in Entebbe or be put in isolation‘.
Intending visitors to Uganda are therefor advised to immediately seek medical advice and undergo inoculation, but should remember that the shot will only be effective after ten days. This gap, due to logistics and perhaps the lack of vaccine or a nearby recognized vaccination centre, may widen this time frame to as much as several weeks, during which passengers disembarking in Uganda will face the stark reality of either being vaccinated or put into isolation, both measures sure to create negative perception about the country and in some cases spoil a vacation.
But when ever have governments employed common sense or tempered such hasty decisions in the broader interest of the country?